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Did absence of Kelly Olynyk hurt Miami Heat in New York?

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Olynyk isn’t known as an overall elite defender, but his size helps at the rim.

NBA: Miami Heat at Washington Wizards Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Over the last ten games Kelly Olynyk held opponents to their lowest field goal percentage against the Miami Heat, 57.7%. Perhaps his absence has contributed to Miami’s relatively poor showing defending the painted area in their losses to the Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks. Olynyk doesn’t possess remarkable athleticism for a NBA player, but his size does matter protecting the rim.

Looking at Miami players, who defended 20 or more field goal attempts in the restricted area, the raw numbers for opponent’s FG% are:

  • Kelly Olynyk, 57.7%
  • James Johnson, 61.5%
  • Tyler Herro, 66.5%
  • Meyers Leonard, 67.9%
  • Bam Adebayo, 68.1%
  • Duncan Robinson, 68.1%

Interestingly Olynyk also bothers shooters in the paint, as well as beyond the 3-point line.

In the paint (min 10 FGA):

  • Goran Dragic, 32.9%
  • Tyler Herro, 37.2%
  • Kelly Olynyk, 37.5%

Above the break 3 (min 20 FGA):

  • Kelly Olynyk, 25.0%
  • Tyler Herro, 29.2%
  • Derrick Jones Jr., 30.7%

The figures should be taken in context since most of their opponents are bench players, and not starters. Another factor to consider is that Olynyk had the lowest NetRtg of all the Heat players over the last ten games at -16.7.

His OffRtg of 91.3 negated his second best DefRtg of 107.9, and made keeping him in the game questionable. Last season Olynyk’s best two-man pairings were alongside Josh Richardson and Justise Winslow. With Richardson gone and Winslow injured most of the season, Olynyk may be affected by their absence.

The question for Miami is how to keep the 240 lb bodies of Olynyk and Johnson on the court to help protect the paint, while keeping the Heat’s offense good enough to win games.

Stats courtesy of NBA stats.